News yesterday from trainer Nicky Henderson that his Champion Chaser Altior would not be running at Kempton on Saturday despite being entered for the Silviniaco Conti Chase just 24 hours earlier. The horse missed several potential engagements over Christmas, having lost his long unbeaten record over fences when disappointing at Ascot on his seasonal reappearance.
As the horse has aged, he has tended to jump out to his left more and I was not convinced that Kempton was a suitable venue for the 10-year-old to get his season back on track. At the time of writing it is unsure when we will see the horse again – Game Spirit Chase at Newbury next month perhaps – although he remains 3/1 favourite with BetVictor for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March and 10s for the Ryanair Chase over an additional half a mile at the Festival.
At Ludlow today I hope to see Rolling Dylan (1.15) return to winning ways in the handicap chase over an extended 3m 1f. Philip Hobbs has his string in good form and the selection has been running better than his finishing position would suggest in the Cross-Country races at Cheltenham in his last couple of starts.
I remember the gelding being run out of it close home at Taunton last year over three-and-a-half-miles when he looked a non-stayer and this slight drop back in trip should be ideal. Note he is 3lbs lower in the weights this afternoon. Marble Moon looks a big danger in receipt of a stone from the selection.
Bhutan looked an unlucky loser at Catterick last time as he blundered two out before jockey Jonjo O’Neill dropped his whip. He must run well but he is 5lbs higher this afternoon and Dundrum Wood (1.45) could be well treated for his handicap debut for Olly Murphy.
The selection did not pick up as I was hoping when runner up at Market Rasen on debut but went one better stepped up in trip (2m 2f) back at the Lincolnshire track last time when he looked as if he would stay further. The selection did win a point over 3m and i believe he could be well ahead of his current mark although his stamina must still be taken on trust.
Private Malone (2.15) hinted at a return to form at Lingfield last time under today’s conditional jockey Henry Platt and he gets the vote in the 3m Handicap Chase. The selection is one of a number in the field who have slight stamina concerns, but he does have bits of form which suggest he is very well treated at present. Ben Pauling saddles two in the race and both are open to considerable improvement although they are unproven on the forecast soft ground. Note a market move for either.
In the valuable 6f Conditions race at Newcastle I hope to see Good Effort (2.30) go one better than when runner up here over 5f on his penultimate start when beaten half-a-length by Watchable who reopposes on 5lbs worse terms this afternoon. The selection has since won at Deauville on polytrack over slightly further than today’s trip and his ability to get further should hold him in good stead on this stiff track.
I am looking forward to the racecourse debut of Blow Your Horn (3.30) a colt by the owner’s Derby/Arc winner Golden Horn who cost 200,000 gns as a foal. Trainer Charlie Fellowes has his string in good form and Hayley Turner takes the mount.
At Kempton this evening Thai Terrier (6.15) finished well on his belated racecourse debut over 10f at Lingfield last week and gave every indication that he would be well served by an additional quarter of a mile. Joe Fanning takes the ride on the gelding who would not have to find much improvement to break his maiden tag at the second time of asking.